The world is experiencing cultural, technological and economic shifts that have ushered in a new approach to work and entrepreneurialism. Millennials are expected to account for more than 50% of the global workforce by 2020, and this is having a big influence on the changing attitudes to work. This generation is committed to pursuing their dreams and creating startup businesses that they are truly passionate about.
Being a startup gives you the ability to adapt and change where larger companies might struggle to. It also lends itself to collaboration and interaction with other like-minded entrepreneurs and individuals in other startups, which helps drive innovation and growth, and is a trait we are seeing emerging amongst millennials.
This underlying desire to collaborate has led to a rise in collaborative workspaces such as WeWork, and reflects the wider shift in attitudes to the way we work. According to Deskmag, there was an 83% increase in co-working spaces globally from February 2012 to February 2013. More and more, entrepreneurs want to be part of something bigger than themselves and their own endeavours – they want to be part of a community.
There are multiple benefits for startups in operating as part of a wider co-working business community. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review reported a 75% increase in productivity by workers since joining their co-working space, and an 80% increase in the size of business networks for companies operating within a co-working platform.
Working culture is also now one of the ways startups are differentiating themselves. Being in a community environment where you are able to draw on the expertise and ideas of others can help draw talent to your business, especially among the generation of millennials who are always seeking to learn, explore, and create.
It can also address some of the other challenges faced by startups. Your talent pool is often limited and sometimes you need advice on an issue facing your business that is outside your area of expertise, which is where drawing upon your local community can be really valuable. Some of the best decisions and insights come from talking to those not in your line of business who can see the bigger picture. That is why many of our members use one another as sounding boards/extensions of their business, and this often generates beneficial creative discussions.
This is why, at WeWork, we focus on creating strong communities in our buildings. We believe bringing together like-minded creators inspires and empowers them to succeed. We host weekly events that bring together our members to encourage these all-important discussions, build relationships and most importantly, build community. We also connect our members through a global digital network, enabling the sharing of ideas, advice and work on an international scale, 24/7.
Just as in a small, tight-knit village everyone supports one another, in our own communities we have seen the same thing happen. 60% of our members have done business with each other, emphasising that once a strong community is established, it creates a virtuous cycle of benefits. But as in a village, you have to participate to make the most of being a part of the community in the first place. You have to be active, get to know your neighbours, and contribute to the atmosphere and overall creative flow of energy.
Co-working spaces work best when they go beyond just providing a physical space to work in. It is about trying to find new ways of empowering entrepreneurs every day, to really make a difference by creating a community around them, and helping them focus all of their energies on building a successful business.
This new way of working, focused on collaboration and sharing, has long term benefits that today’s millennials are starting to see. That is why we, and they, believe community is truly the future of work.